Manmohan Singh tells Arab journalists: Terrorism single biggest threat

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said that terrorism remains the single biggest threat to peace and stressed the need for global efforts to defend the values of pluralism and peaceful co-existence.

In a special interaction with Arab journalists prior to leaving New Delhi for a three day visit to Saudi Arabia, Singh said: Terrorism remains the single biggest threat to peace, stability and to our progress. Global efforts are needed to defend the values of pluralism, peaceful co-existence and the rule of law."

"All the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) share India's concerns relating to extremism and terrorism. We reject the idea that any religion or cause can be used to justify violence against innocent people," he added.

Commenting on normalising relations with Pakistan, Manmohan Singh said there is no change in India's position.

"We seek a peaceful and normal relationship with Pakistan. We should be good neighbours. In that quest we have consistently sought to engage those in Pakistan who are ready to work with us. There is no alternative to dialogue to resolve the issues that divide us. Today the primary issue is terrorism," he said.

"As a neighbour, we cannot remain immune to the rise of extremism and terrorism in Pakistan, or on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan," Singh added.

He further said that extremism and terrorism are major threats not only to India, but also to Pakistan, and all its other neighbours.

"It is in our collective interest that we resolutely oppose, resist and overcome terrorism and all those who nurture, sustain and give sanctuary to terrorists and extremist elements," Singh said.

It is a fact that Jammu and Kashmir and its people have suffered repeatedly at the hands of terrorism from across the border. This has militated against the will of the people of the State, who have time and again voted in large numbers in democratic elections to unambiguously reject violence.

"We have taken several measures for the development of Jammu and Kashmir, and for its people to live in peace and harmony, as in the rest of the country. In so far as our dialogue with Pakistan is concerned, we are ready to discuss all issues with them in an atmosphere free from terrorism," Singh said.

Singh further said that India has institutionalised its cooperation with the Gulf countries by putting in place various security cooperation agreements, including extradition treaties.

Commenting on growing Indo-Israel military relation Singh said Arab concern about growing Indo-Israeli defense cooperation is "misplaced."

"Our relationship with no single country is at the expense of our relations with any other country," he said.

As to India's support for Palestine, it was "an article of faith for us," he added.

"Our solidarity with the people of Palestine predates our independence," Singh said.

"India supports a peaceful solution that would result in a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, side by side at peace with Israel," he added. (ANI)

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